23 Jan 2020

Labour signing up to Facebook tool that tracks political ads

3:06 pm on 23 January 2020

The Labour Party is voluntarily signing up to Facebook's new transparency tool, aimed at stopping anonymous "fake news" style advertising.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to reporters at the annual Labour caucus retreat in Martinborough.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to reporters at the annual Labour caucus retreat in Martinborough. Photo: RNZ / Yvette McCullough

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement at the annual caucus retreat in Martinborough, as she re-committed Labour to a "relentlessly positive, factual, and robust campaign".

The Facebook Ad Library Report allows voters to see where campaigning money is being spent on Facebook ads. It was created after the 2016 US election.

"It means voters can see who is behind paid advertising online, how much they are spending and who they are targeting. The measures help avoid anonymous fake news style ads", Ardern said.

These rules are compulsory in the US, UK, Canada and the EU, but not in New Zealand.

The Green Party and ACT have also signed up to the rules.

National Party deputy leader Paula Bennett said yesterday the party was still working its way through whether it would sign up.

"We'll be looking at it and seeing if that's in the interests of the public that that's being done," she told Morning Report.

Ardern also announced that Labour's major election policy costings will be independently verified.

"Having policy costings independently verified improves the quality of information voters have about policies and ensures better policy. It's a good thing and we are happy to show leadership on this."

In her opening remarks this morning, Ardern said Labour MPs had agreed on the tone and values they want to embody throughout this year's election.

In what could be seen as a swipe at the opposition's social media strategy, Jacinda Ardern said that Labour's campaign will be positive, and above all factual.

"How incredibly important it is for us, as the Labour Party, that New Zealand does not fall prey to what we've seen happen in other jurisdictions, that New Zealanders deserve a factual campaign, free from mis-information.

"Where people can make honest reflections for themselves about what they want for the future of New Zealand," she said.

Ardern told MPs it will be important for Labour to tell the story of their wins in government this year, as well as highlighting the work there still is to do.

One of the stories that looks likely to be a focus is the government's $12 billion infrastructure boost announced last year

Ardern described it as a "major, signature piece" for the party.

"That's more investment into infrastructure in one go than most would have seen in a generation, it is huge.

"The time to do it is right. We do have infrastructure needs in New Zealand, we also have low debt and we are also at a point where, of course, borrowing is extremely cheap.

"The IMF has said now is the time and so that is what we are doing as a government to invest in the areas where we have significant infrastructure deficits," Ardern said.

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